BlueChilli has joined forces with corporate bigwig Coca-Cola to launch a new accelerator program and expand across the ditch, as the Australian startup giant continues its phase of rapid growth.
Coca-Cola Amatil, which bottles Coca-Cola in six countries including Australia and New Zealand launched the Xcelerate program today, which will be run by BlueChilli. Up to $538,000 in investment will be on offer for participating founders, along with a six-month program and in-house technical team.
It follows BlueChili’s partnership with Singaporean VC firm Hatcher+, announced last week, that will see it co-invest in 240 startups around the world in the next three years from a new $162 million fund.
BlueChilli is planning to run its programs in five countries by 2020, with the latest partnership facilitating its expansion to New Zealand. It will then look to the US by the end of the year, and to south-east Asia in 2019.
The Xcelerate program will accept up to 30 startups for its initial bootcamp program, with the best ideas chosen to take part in BlueChilli’s six-month program.
The chosen companies would get the six-month program, an in-house tech team from BlueChilli and $38,000 in cash in exchange for 15 per cent equity. At the completion of the program, if the startup goes on to raise funding, it would get up to $500,000 in follow-on funding on offer, and up to $200,000 from Coca-Cola Amatil.
The six-month program will involve weekly workshops, talks, entrepreneurs-in-residence, mentoring and a structured program. The program is to be run by BlueChill program director Megan Flamer.
The accelerator is aimed at very early-stage companies with just an initial idea, BlueChilli founder and chief executive Sebastien Eckersley-Maslin said.
“The Xcelerate program uniquely supports non-technical founders, which provides future CEOs and CMOs the ability to quickly launch a tech company,” Mr Eckersley-Maslin told InnovationAus.com.
“This, combined with the $500,000 in matched funding, gives Australian and New Zealand problem-solvers an unprecedented opportunity to launch a startup.”
“No other corporate program can come close to the level of commitment BlueChilli makes.”
The Xcelerate program is specifically looking for ideas focusing on personalisation and data, sustainability, wellbeing and health, and improving efficiencies in logistics.
BlueChilli recently changed it model to provide companies going through its program with a technical team free of charge, and this helps to differentiate it from other offerings in Australia and New Zealand.
“Other programs require the founding team to have a tech co-founder, and as only 7 per cent of the population is technical, this significantly limits the ability for great business leaders to start a tech company,” Mr Eckersley-Maslin said.
“Also, as 80 per cent of tech people are male, other accelerator programs generally struggle to attract female-led startups, whereas at BlueChilli we’re proud of the fact that last year we achieved parity,” he said.
Coca-Cola Amatil group managing director Alison Watkins said the organisation is looking for people with “brilliant ideas that could become global businesses with the right support and funding”.
“We are looking for the best and brightest business ideas that would benefit from the combination of our global success and BlueChilli’s startup accelerator program, to turn their napkin-stage ideas into successful, scalable businesses,” Ms Watkins said.
“The Xcelerate program was created to help foster incredible ideas that can have huge impacts if given the opportunity and hands-on support.”
Mr Eckersley-Maslin said he was “impressed with the speed and eagerness” of the large corporate, with discussions on launching the accelerator beginning earlier this year.
Applications for the first Xcelerate program are now open for Australian and New Zealand startups, and close in a month.
The bootcamp is to run from the end of May, while the accelerator program would begin in mid-June.